Among all of the players currently on Two-Way contracts, few have flashed the NBA potential that Bryce McGowens has during his career.
The Charlotte Hornets traded a 2023 second-round pick via New York to move up five spots and select McGowens with the 40th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, inking the Pendleton, South Carolina product to a Two-Way deal soon after. McGowens was a consensus top-30 recruit coming out of high school and became the first five-star to commit to Nebraska where he played alongside his older brother, Trey. He put up 16.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game en route to a third-team All-Big Ten selection as a freshman and hit 83.1 percent from the line with a .491 free-throw rate.
Expectations can only be so high for a Two-Way player since they’re only eligible to be active for 50 of the 82 games in a season, but an optimistic view paints McGowens as more than hybrid NBA/G Leaguer.
During Summer League, he was tasked with point guard duties and handled them well for a player who’s spent the recent stages of his career as an off-ball guard while canning 42.9 percent of his 5.6 attempted triples per game, a marked improvement from his college three-point percentage. Most of all, the body control, flexibility, pace and utilization of angles as a driver and finisher translated, indicating that McGowens could continue to draw fouls at an impressive rate at the next level in due time.
Of course, a two-week trip to Las Vegas isn’t a large enough sample size to officially deem McGowens an improved shooter. As the preseason continues, look for him to build off of the pair of shooting fouls drawn in eight minutes against Boston while displaying the attentiveness and hustle on the defensive end requested by head coach Steve Clifford. While it may take a bit for his shooting efficiency to level out, it’s important for McGowens to take open threes and pull-ups in an effort to work those shots into his arsenal as he develops into a more versatile offensive threat.
There’s no telling how many meaningful NBA minutes McGowens will play as a rookie, but there’s a skill package present that makes the 6-foot-7 teenager an intriguing prospect nonetheless. The Hornets are currently bereft of guard depth, which helps his case quite a bit. It wouldn’t be surprising to see McGowens elevated from a Two-Way to a standard contract at some point this season, especially if a midseason trade is completed.
I might be in the minority, but I’m very excited to see what McGowens’ rookie year looks like whether he’s with Charlotte or Greensboro.